One in every 122 people alive today is a refugee: UN

Geneva :2015 is likely to exceed all previous records of global displacement with at least five million people forced to flee their homes in the first half of the year, a new UN report warned.

The global refugee total crossed the 20 million threshold for the first time since 1992 and the number of internally displaced people spiked by 2 million taking the number to 34 million, according to the UNHCR’s Mid-Year Trends 2015 report covering the period from January to end June.

The worldwide displacement was at the highest level ever recorded, the report said, adding the number of people forcibly displaced at the end of 2014 had risen to a staggering 59.5 million compared to 51.2 million a year earlier and 37.5 million a decade ago.

The increase represents the biggest leap ever seen in a single year. Moreover, the report said the situation was likely to worsen still further.

2015 is on track to see worldwide forced displacement — which includes refugees, asylum seekers, and IDPs who are also beyond UNHCR’s mandate– exceeding 60 million for the first time.

Globally, one in every 122 humans is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum. If this were the population of a country, it would be the world’s 24th biggest, the report said.

“More dramatic and more clear than that isthe number of individual asylum requests increased by 78 per cent which means we are witnessing more and more people that are refugees in host countries but that the living conditions that they have and the situation they endure is so difficult that they have no other chance but to move onwards,” said Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

In the first six months of 2015, Germany was the world’s biggest recipient of new asylum claimswith 159,000 applications, close to the total for all of 2014.

Combined with that voluntary return rates are at the lowest in the last 30 years having fallen by 20 per cent from last year.

“It is more and more difficult to have conditions for people to be able to exercise what is a basic right of a refugee-the right of return, the possibility to go back to their lives,” Guterres added.

New refugee numbers have gone up considerably with 839,000 refugees in just six months who have crossed international borders.

This is an average of 4,600 people forced to flee their homes everyday with Syria being the biggest generator of such refugees.

Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan were the top five refugee generating countries in the first half of 2015 while Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran and Ethiopia were the top five refugee hosting countries in the first half of 2015.

“My belief is that we will have figures for 2016 that will very probably be worse than the ones for 2015,” the UN Refugee Agency chief, who retires at the end of this year, warned.